Fairfax: The Best of “Family Night”

No Moms Left Behind

Peggy Fox, a WUSA reporter, talked to a parent who confirmed that during a recent Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Family Night for recruit firefighters, a “captain said that “some practical jokes go on in the station with the new recruits some might call it hazing, some might call it bullying.” “Millennials have thin skin”, and “boys will be boys.”

Fire Academy

The captain’s comments are both alarming and unsupportable but the millennial reference is not without merit.

Rice University and others posit that millennials consider themselves to be both sheltered and special, among other distinctive characteristics.

Regarding being sheltered, Rice observes, “They were sheltered from having to take care of their own conflicts as parents advocated on their behalf, and “spared” them from unpleasant experiences.”

What could possibly be more millennial than a “family night” where the parents of the employees go on to write letters and talk to reporters on behalf of their aggrieved children?

Post graduation will mom and dad show up at the firehouse to demand gluten-free chow for the wee ones?

It is the quintessential example of helicopter parenting run amok.

Mittendorff, One Year On

Nicole Mittendorff

This episode was the “how are we doing” pop quiz and the answer is terrible.

Fairfax County Board of Supervisor’s member Penny Gross said she is “fit to be tied.”

Dranesville Supervisor John Foust said, “There’s cancer in the department. Some individuals just don’t get it.”

And, Chairman Sharon Bulova said, “If the captain did indeed say those things at the meeting, he must be disciplined.”


To Bulova, Gross and Foust: First time, shame on Fire Chief Richard Bowers, second time, shame on you.

Sharon Bulova

In its own unique way this is another John Geer incident where the Board of Supervisors hides behind cowardly do-nothing rhetoric.

While Best’s comments (and certainly the acts themselves) are not to be accepted or condoned, disciplining him is beyond absurd, he simply told it as he sees it to the horror of the mommies and the daddies present.

The problem is at the top levels.

It is the fire chief and his senior chiefs who must be held accountable for their abject failure to create substantive change in the ranks.

The Candyman and His Boys

Richard Bowers

Bowers nickname is “candyman” as he gives the b’hoys what they want.

The fact that one year after the death of Nicole Mittendorff a captain can publicly rationalize hazing and bullying as practical jokes is proof positive that giving them what they want is a failed strategy all around.

All that candy has caused a mouth full of cavities and it is way past time for a trip to the dentist.

It will and should hurt, a lot.

Winners and Losers

Where is the Fairfax County Professional Firefighters and Paramedics, IAFF Local 2068 in this catastrophe?

They apparently continue to prop up a regime which has failed to create the change that would protect our members, all of them.

They are utterly silent and absent from the field of battle.

So absent, in fact, that moms and dads have taken up the fight in their stead.

In this leaderless environment Bowers and his predatory b’hoys are the winners and the citizens of Fairfax County are the losers.

The Board of Supervisors are losers too, but of an entirely different sort.




  • Victoria Huckenpahler says:

    I so agree, Eric. I’m frankly sick of the bitching done by the cupcakes. Where have folks’ backbones gone? I agree that the parents are raising a bunch of wimps. Not the kids’ fault, I suppose, when everything is structured for them from their earliest age. Even their “play dates” are organized by the parents.

  • Mike says:

    This is one of your best, well said!

  • Kevin says:


  • W R Q says:

    Talk of being sick and tired, how bout being sick and tired of having to change entire organizations due to this must needed tolerance of all these freekn cry babies! From millennials, gender, religion the list goes on and on! Maybe sometimes the old suck it up buttercup still should apply​ I believe! Like was said above it’s time to stop babying your little brats and let them overcome a little failure! Eventually there won’t be a tough human left to do some a the jobs that need done in this world if we keep up with this tolerance bullshit in everything that exists!! Any decent person can determine when hazzing, joking, horseplay is/has gone to far and yes it should be stoped and corrections made but for every little thing these days to be called out if bounds or overboard is just freekn rediculose! You should find out what your getting into before signing up and if you don’t like the atmosphere then get a job in a candy factory where everything’s sweet and colorful! As for blaming those at the top for everything that happens beneath then is as well rediculose! The rank and file everywhere are responsible for policing themselves within their peer groups, obviously w reasonable rules in place and education of issues that may and will arise in some situations! But to think that the bosses can avert every possible hurt feeling or stubbed toe is just as crazy as having to appeal to all the weaklings that want to play w the big Boys and Girls these days! Rant over and much more PC than I’d like to be too! Sorry if it hurts anyone’s feelings! Lol!

  • IslaFire says:

    There was a class at a recent ALTS titled something like “Generational Differences in the Fire Service.” It was one of the better classes. Like it or not, society always changes with different generations. The fire service is no different. We’ve always adapted as a nation and we will adapt as a service. I’m sure our grandparents lamented the generational differences of our parents much like our parents lamented ours and we do towards our children.

    I was not present when this Captain said what he said. I’m sure what he said was much more extensive. We only get the soundbites. Perhaps it could have been presented in a different manner. Not sure. I wasn’t there.

    I’m curious how it works in USMC Boot Camp now. Does the drill sergeant meet with the parents before they begin their induction?

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